07/05/2021, 12.26
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Military plane crashes in Sulu leaving 50 dead

Due to causes still to be clarified, the aircraft missed the landing strip and crashed. Forty-seven military personnel and three civilians died. The passengers were mainly army graduates newly assigned to battalions fighting terrorism. The Minister of Defence orders an investigation.


Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The death toll has risen to 50 and 53 injured after a plane crashed near Patikul, Sulu province, yesterday. The Hercules C-130 was carrying 96 passengers, mostly first-degree soldiers who had just completed their training. The dead included three civilians who were killed on the ground while working in a quarry, while the other 47 were military personnel.

The aircraft was due to land at Jolo airport, about 950 km south of the capital, but for reasons still to be clarified it missed the runway and failed to regain altitude before crashing.

The young army graduates had just been assigned to their battalions to fight against the Abu Sayyaf Islamist group. "They were to join us in the fight against terrorism," said Commander William Gonzales of the Sulu Archipelago Joint Task Force. According to an armed forces statement, some soldiers were seen jumping out of the plane before impact.

The Lockheed C-130H Hercules aircraft was one of two US-supplied aircraft. Senator Richard Gordon pointed out that yesterday's crash was the fourth involving a military aircraft this year and tweeted: "Are we buying defective aircraft [with] the people's money?".

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana dismissed speculation about the causes of the crash as 'disrespectful' to the victims and their families. Lorenzana went on to say that he has ordered an investigation into the incident, which will begin after the completion of rescue and recovery operations.

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